Playing Call of Duty WWII: Nazi Zombies wasn’t a very high on my list of must-plays for the year. Previous Call of Duty zombie modes have been somewhat niche and at times verging on inaccessible in their approach, especially when mixing it into the same stew as classic Call of Duty campaign and/or multiplayer modes. I was also hesitant because of zombies in general are wearing thin on the soles of gaming and entertainment in general’s sneakers over the last few years. That mainly due to a flux of oversaturation of comic book movie proportions. That being said, I was wrong to be so hasty in my assessment. Hey, I can admit when I’m wrong.
In this WWII tale of Nazi occult focus, a group of 4 special operatives are tasked with locating art stolen by the Nazi’s during the war, and as a means to find Marie Fischer’s (Katheryn Winnick) brother Klaus. Joining Fischer is a rag-tag group of fighters and thieves – Drostan Hynd, (David Tennant) Jefferson Potts (Ving Rhames) and Olivia Durant (Elodie Yung). Upon aerial transport, the team is shot down over a small village where mad Nazi scientist, Peter Straub (Udo Kier) has been experimenting in order to create ‘The Final Reich,’ a means of defeating all allied forces with the assistance of reanimated corpses. The foursome has to ban together in order to fight off waves of Straub’s undead Nazi soldiers to survive the night.
This entry of Zombies mode mixes things up in interesting ways to help it simultaneously take a fresh approach, while still feeling like classic COD Zombies.
In terms of classic approach, you are taking down waves of zombies while collecting points (they are referred to as jolts here) with each destroyed wave and more jolts, you are able to purchase added weapons off of wall vending machines, and to pay to explore new areas of the map. Each wave becomes more difficult than the last, with increasing numbers of hulking, fast moving and regular ole’ zombie types being throw into the mix.
In this entry, you aren’t simply gunning down tons of zombies and opening new areas to progress though. Here, you also figure out puzzle based objectives that are overtly complex. If you are a fan of Destiny and upgrading raids to heroic, you know what I’m talking about. For example, if the objective says ‘power up generator,’ you have to explore the entirety of the map in order to find exactly what generators the objective was talking about. These get more tough as you go along. If you have teammates that have no idea what they are doing past shooting, you are gonna have a long match. Teamwork is absolutely imperative in figuring out some of these National Treasure-ish puzzles. Spoiler: There was seriously a time I had to find a severed head, then hold said head up to a painting in order to light hieroglyphics all to complete one objective. There were no markers indicating what to do or where to go. Just had to figure that out on a whim.
These puzzle objectives are slightly frustrating, but also add another level of fun to the game. If you aren’t a Youtube video cheater, and decide to figure these out on your own. Prepare for some amount of frustration. Fun… but also frustration. I highly recommend teaming up with some friends who haven’t looked online for puzzle walkthroughs. Despite, the helpless feeling of temporarily not knowing what to do. It’s more exciting to have to explore and work as a team than it is to do paint-by-numbers objective completion compliments of Youtube.
As opposed to previous COD Zombie games, this one introduces a class system. Here you are able to pick from four class types. Each offering a different level of support to fellow teammates, each class coming preloaded with their individual starting weapons and special abilities. As you level up, you gain weapon modifications that you can carry with you into future matches. This makes for a much more accessible entry than previous titles. The ability to keep your weapon’s mods even after having to start over makes the whole thing feel a lot more organically personal. This in contrast to losing everything each round and only being able to collect consumables. It makes a big difference in terms of how invested I felt in my character and my teammates.
This COD Nazi Zombies is actually effective in the jump-scare department too. This has to be due to the fact that one of the games co-founders also worked on the very good, and very scary Dead Space. These jump scares come randomly when seemingly spring-loaded zombies pop out around different corners you are trying to navigate. The effect comes with a shrill torque of the games sound FX, and had the ability to make me slightly jump 70% percent of the time.
The voice actors, come with their own audible personalities due to Sledgehammer Games betting on and hiring some heavy genre hitters. That isn’t always a recipe for success, and some games have allowed their star-power to go over the top or to be too ham to allow the game to breathe. This one has voice actors that did their character homework and didn’t overstep the fact that this game is about the player not the performance. The closest we ever get to ham, is by means of Udo Kier. And seriously like-minded Kier fans, would we want it any other way? His evil Nazi mad scientist is well-suited for monologues only Kier could have effectively delivered.
In the past, my COD Zombies experiences have been pretty ‘meh.’ I usually check them out for a bit but quickly move on to something else. Call of Duty WWII: Nazi Zombies, is the first one that I’ve actually been into and enjoyed thoroughly. It’s just enough new and personalized elements to make it an easy game to pick up, and one whose challenging objective puzzles makes it hard to put down. Controls, characters, narrative and approach is all on point, making me actually more excited to play this than I am the campaign mode. It’s a tension filled, white knuckle, zombie killing good time. And I’ll be looking forward to future DLC additions.